How Friends Are The Key To A Happy Retirement
Guideposts|June/July 2019

The key to a happy retirement is strong relationships

Eric Thurman, Algonquin, Illinois

Ken Phillips was my best friend. We’d known each oth-er for 30 years. I knew he’d be thrilled for me when I called to tell him I was taking a great new job. It meant moving from Chicago to Philadelphia. A big change for my wife and me. I couldn’t wait to share the good news.

“What do you mean you’re leaving?” Ken said. I’d barely gotten the words out of my mouth. “You interview for a job in another city, and you don’t even tell me about it?”

I tried to explain how it was a startup that would help large donors make grants to help in many of the world’s poorest places. It had strong support behind it, but I’d been sworn to secrecy. The backers didn’t want to be overwhelmed by requests for donations. “Like you couldn’t tell me?” he asked. “I thought our friendship meant more to you than that.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. Sure, Ken and I had had some great conversations over the years. Watched each other’s kids grow up. Even taken a couple of vacations together. But things change. Ken was a psychiatrist, for Pete’s sake. How was he not getting this?

I’m a doer, focused on taking action, not talking about feelings. I had my hands full with work, family and now an exciting new job opportunity. Friends hadn’t been a huge priority, not the way they were for Ken obviously.

“We’ll still talk,” I said. “I’ll get back to Chicago occasionally. You can come to Philly. We can still be friends, can’t we?”

We’d met in Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern University, when Ken was an undergrad. My wife, Pennie, and I owned a small house nearby. I was starting my career in the fastpaced newsroom of WBBM, one of Chicago’s top radio stations. I’d grown up in Kansas City. Didn’t know a lot of people in Evanston. On Sundays we’d invite over a few of the college students who went to our church for a homecooked meal. We weren’t much older than they were. It was just a chance for everyone to kick back.

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